Two-division world champion turned boxing analyst Timothy Bradley expects 168lbs king Canelo Alvarez to deliver a highlight reel knockout when he faces Turkish outsider Avni Yildirim in Miami on February 27. But Bradley feels that the Mexican should be facing much tougher challenges in the form of ex-WBC champion David Benavidez or middleweight title holder Jermall Charlo.
Yesterday, unified champion Canelo’s mandated WBC defence against Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) found a home at the Miami Dolphin’s Hard Rock Stadium as the Mexican star targets bigger fish later in the year. A clash with WBO super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders has already been mooted in May, having been scheduled 12 months earlier before the intervention of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
With more meaningful fights seemingly on the horizon against Saunders and IBF title-holder Caleb Plant, WBC and WBA ‘Super’ champ Canelo (54-1-2, 36 KOs) shouldn’t have any issues with Yildirim, according to Bradley. Indeed, the Californian feels the Turkish challenger, inactive for almost two years, is made to measure for the four-weight champion from Guadalajara and not a worthy opponent on previous form. Bradley believes it’s no accident Canelo hasn’t agreed to fight the undefeated duo of Benavidez and Charlo.
“You have a counterpuncher in Canelo Alvarez who can set you up on the front foot and the back foot. He can just do a lot of different things and, against someone who’s going to just keep coming forward, always there in front of Canelo, that’s a recipe for disaster for Yildirim,” Bradley told Espn.com.
“In a fight like this, Canelo should look very, very impressive and he should win this fight in spectacular fashion. It should be a highlight-reel knockout. SportsCenter top 10, top 10 KOs in all of boxing by the end of 2021 when all is said and done. He can raise his profile and his standing with a KO win because that’s what a lot of fans want to see.
“Yildirim should get stopped before round six. He’s a mandatory challenger who deserves to fight Canelo, according to the sanctioning body. But at this point we know what these sanctioning bodies are about. Moving guys into certain places that can benefit their pockets, their franchise and improve the way their marquee fighters look. Why isn’t a guy like [David] Benavidez, who had that title and was one of the youngest guys ever to win that same title, in line for a chance to try to win it back instead?
“The only problem I have with Alvarez, he’s not fighting the best guys right now. He’s winning these belts, challenging guys in different weight classes. You have a guy at 168 in Benavidez who wants all of the smoke, but Canelo won’t fight him. You have a guy in Jermall Charlo who would probably be willing to go up to fight Canelo. There’s always talk about how these guys don’t really want the fight, or how the money isn’t right, or how they haven’t fought enough ‘names’ to be worthy of the shot, but come on. Stop it. It’s just a way to avoid a fighter and a fight you don’t want.
“Honestly, I don’t see much there [in this fight]. Yildirim is a punching bag. I watched his fight against Chris Eubank Jr. and he got smoked in that fight. I saw him against [Anthony] Dirrell. The Dirrell fight was an exciting, wild fight and it ended prematurely, but he lost. That’s his most recent fight, and it was two years ago. Now he’s going to step up against Canelo and do better than that?
“You look at Yildirim, and he’s fought a few guys, but anytime he has stepped up his class of opponent, he’s been destroyed,” added Bradley. “He looks terrible. He gets beaten. If Canelo does not knock this guy out, he cannot possibly be considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. It’s just a fight. It’s nothing that I would be willing to pay to watch.”